Farewell to Quino and Camacho

Last updated : 11 February 2004 By Dov

It’s often said that football is a cruel game. I can think of no better example than the breaking news on February 10th 2004, that Francisco Quino and Juan José Camacho were among six players sacked by Livi in an attempt to cut costs. Quino is an absolute hero to all Livi fans, and Juanjo has been a personal favourite for as long as he’s been with the club, so I thought I’d write something for them.

We all knew that redundancies were inevitable, but it didn’t stop the feeling of shock that we would never again see either of these two players in a Livi shirt again. I normally write pieces full of poor attempts at humour, and smutty innuendo, but today I don’t feel capable. Just wanted to put down my thoughts on why I will miss them. Hopefully one or two of you will know what I mean.

The first your average Livi fan will have heard of Fransico Cabrera Guinovert, or Quino for short was during the heady optimistic summer of 2001. Livi had just been promoted and a clutch of signings were announced. Much was expected of names like Stuart Lovell and Massi Caputo, but little was known of the Spanish midfielder. The issue of the No.12 squad number had us thinking he would be a squad player. It didn’t take him long to rectify that.

A pre-season friendly against Walsall saw people sit up and take notice when we first saw the crisp passing and intuitive skill that Quino would become well loved for. If we liked what we saw then, we were in for a treat to come. Quino started Livi’s first ever SPL game, and ensured his name would go down in history when he scored Livi’s first ever SPL goal, tucking home a Fernandez cross after half an hour, following a brilliantly timed late run into the box. Subsequent impressive displays soon established him as a favourite among the Livi fans. He was also showing an eye for goal, with an impressive strike away to Celtic on Boxing Day being followed by a spectacular volley against the same opposition at Almondvale some months later.

Quino also scored the last Livi goal at Almondvale that season against Dunfermline as Livi qualified for Europe, and again a week later as we beat Hearts for the fourth time to confirm 3rd place.

After signing a new contract during the summer, Quino remained an integral part of the team, which struggled with injuries, off-the-pitch drama and loss of key players the following season. He always showed 100% commitment and graft in all our games though, remaining a hugely popular cult figure with fans. Off the pitch, despite being quiet he always made time for the fans, and attended many social events. I still have an autograph form the 2002 Player of the Year event.

Our 3rd season in the SPL didn’t start too well, but suddenly seemed to kick into high gear, and Mr Quino again was instrumental. An away game in Aberdeen in late September saw the Lions fail to produce a shot on goal in regular time in the first half. A ball dropping well outside the Aberdeen box in stoppage time was caught with a truly exquisite first time volley and smashed into the top corner of the Aberdeen net. The catalyst to a fine 3-0 win and 5 clean sheets in our following games which took us into the top half of the table, where we have remained ever since.

Quino often showed great skill on the ball, but more often than not it was his guts and determination, which won the plaudits and admiration of fans. If there is ever a Livi Hall of Fame he is a sure-fire certainty to win a place.

Livi signed Juanjo Camacho in the summer of 2002. A tricky young winger from Spain, it was apparently intended for him to be understudy to the Argentine international Sergio Berti who also signed that summer.

With Berti’s departure, coupled with his own good form in pre-season, Juanjo found himself thrust into first team contention. He soon found the Scottish game to be quite physical, as his often-replayed encounter with Kevin Muscat’s elbow would illustrate. Although in-and-out of the team, he displayed his skill often enough, smashing in an unstoppable volley against Dundee in November to score his first goal for the club. Juanjo, despite being a tricky winger often impressed most with his range of passing, incisive long and short first time balls being a speciality.

Later on that season, a defensive crisis had Camacho being moved to a left back role, where he produced a consistent series of impressive displays. His passing helped start counter attacks, and he showed ability and bravery in the air. His displays towards the end of the season brought some optimism to Livi fans after a disappointing year.

The arrival of Jamie McAllister and subsequent switch to a 3-5-2 limited Camacho’s chance this year, although whenever he came on as a sub he always gave 100% commitment, and produced a memorable display (and goal) away to Kilmarnock in December. One of my favourite Camacho moments was his “sub not used” against Dundee in the CIS Cup, where he spent the last 10 minutes in front of the away support jumping up and down and going ballistic at Lilley’s penalty

Off the pitch Juanjo was always a nice guy, laughing and joking, and showing time for the fans. He will be much missed, whether it be by autograph seeking fans, or team-mates looking for someone to have a laugh with.

Both Quino and Camacho have provided much enjoyment to me in my time watching Livi. Today was a very sad day, as they were not only good, talented players who gave 100% every time they were called upon, they were also model professionals at the club, especially during the last week or so. Furthermore, they were two downright good people, and to see them lose their jobs, is a hard thing to take.

I cannot claim to speak on behalf of all Livi fans, but personally, I sincerely hope that both players find clubs soon. If they perform with the same talent, fire and ability as they did at Livi, then they will soon be appreciated by a new set of fans.

I also have the forlorn hope that they will one day be seen back at the ‘Vale, be it playing for an opposition team (hope they both have a ‘mare!) or watching their former team-mates handing out a 5-0 pasting to either half of the Old Firm. They will always be welcome at Livi in my book.

Quino and Camacho : Gone but Never Forgotten. (By me anyway)